Basic Math Skills Tests
Many employers in the United States require candidates to take an assessment test in addition to interviews to show their aptitude for the role.
One of the common assessments is a basic math test.
An employer will use a basic math skills test to assess a candidate’s level of knowledge and understanding in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It also tests ability in measuring amounts and sizes.
The employer may also use the basic math skills test to highlight a candidate’s overall intelligence and capabilities.
The tests are designed to be at the level of secondary school math (16-year-olds) and can extend to using basic algebra, averages and fractions.
Having basic math skills is an advantage in both your personal and work life.
They help when any financial transaction is taking place, working out bills, taxes, salaries and more, making them very important in all aspects of life.
If you make note of how many times a day you use a basic math skill, it is likely to be far more often than you would predict.
Some examples of everyday math include:
- Working out your food budget when shopping
- Measuring ingredients when preparing dinner
- Counting down to special events in days or hours
- Paying a bill
- Getting gas
When applying for a role, it will likely specify if a basic math skills test is required. Common job roles where this may be needed include:
- Financial roles
- Technician positions
- Electrician positions
- Mechanical jobs
In a retail setting, these skills might be used to add up prices quickly and efficiently.
They would also come in handy when measuring out products, for example, sweets in a store or meat at a butchery counter.
In healthcare, a nurse may need to work out someone’s BMI from their weight or height, or calculate their medication dosage.
Mechanical and engineering roles involve problem-solving, measuring, and adding and subtracting to diagnose and fix issues.
General math skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing are vital in many roles when a quick answer is needed to make a decision. These skills will help you to perform better at work.
Some of the more recognizable companies that require employees to take a basic math test include the BBC, Google, the NHS, Amazon and Deloitte.
Many of the leading test providers offer basic math skills tests, such as Kenexa, SHL and the Algonquin College.
They all have similar processes, levels of questions and time allocated for each question (typically between 45 seconds and two minutes). The questions differ from provider to provider and the employer may include some bespoke questions.
Here are some example questions that may be asked by any of the basic math test providers.
When applying for a job role, the details of the application should state if a basic math test will be required.
This test could be taken at the initial application stage, after one of the interviews or at the final processing stage.
The higher you score on the math test, the more chance you stand of being a successful candidate. There will be a minimum pass score, but employers will be typically looking at those individuals who score highly.
To ensure a good score, there are a few ways you can prepare.
Many companies and websites have practice math tests that you can download (such as the Algonquin College practice test) or complete online.
These will help you to discover the type of questions to expect, as well as practice under time constraints.
The more practice tests you do, the more prepared you will feel.
Identify which areas of math are covered in all the tests and ensure you have the knowledge and skills in each.
By doing the practice tests, you will be able to identify the areas in which you are strong, and the ones that need extra practice.
If you are constantly struggling with the algebra questions, for example, try studying the basic points from a book or online.
You can then go back to the tests and see if you have improved.
A calculator is typically allowed in the math test, and one is provided if the test is in an assessment center.
However, you can take your own calculator with you, which may be helpful as you will be familiar with how it works and where the buttons are.
Ensure the batteries are charged and all is working.
Also, find out how long you have for the test and practice under exam conditions. That way you should not feel too pressured.
During the test itself, try to remain calm and confident, and know that you can do well.
Read each question carefully, and use all the time given to go over your calculations and answers.
If your math skills are concerning you and you feel you need to improve on the basic areas, there are some common and effective ways to do so.
Make the effort to work out your shopping bill as you go round the store, or try and work out percentages or fractions at work, before using the calculator. This will refresh your skills as well as identify areas that need improvement.
When using those skills in common scenarios, try sketching out the question or problem and working it out from there. Visualizing the problem can help you to go through each step to find the answer.
There are many resources available to learn skills online or from a book. You can learn at your own pace and leisure in whichever way suits you. For example, there are YouTube tutorials or interactive guides online, as well as podcasts that you can listen to whilst in the car or on public transport.
You can borrow books from the library and make notes on key points to help you learn.
There are many apps and online games that will help improve your basic skills. It could be a role-playing game where you need to add and multiply or work out a measurement, or puzzles that can help with problem-solving. It is a fun and interactive way to learn.
Some resources teach tricks and tips to help with mental math problems – such as working out percentages. Learning these and practicing them as many times as possible will help you to master skills and do well in future tests.
Teaching someone a concept can help you to learn it too. Teaching a child a math concept will help you to visualize the theory in your head.
Basic math skills are important in everyday life as well as in employment.
Many employers use basic math skills tests to measure a candidate’s intelligence and suitability for certain roles.
The tests do not have to be overwhelming. With practice and knowledge of what is involved, you can gain a good score.
There are several ways to learn and refresh your basic math skills with online resources and traditional techniques.
Do not let this test put you off applying for a job.